Its a league-heavy weekend this week, with 7 of our 9 games in NIHL1 Britton. Only Peterborough miss out on any league play as they have are having a weekend of Northern opposition in the two cup competitions.
We’ll start with taking a look at what has been the most talked about game, certainly on the social media I see: as Streatham take on Milton Keynes in a game which is believed to be the first to feature pride tape in competitive action in the UK. If you want to read a really well considered piece on why this is important for the game and not just a gimmick- read Dave Carr’s excellent article in Pro Hockey News HERE.
For the game itself, I think this will be an intriguing clash. Both teams have a great mix of high energy, hard fore-checking, back-checking players and high-skill, silky-hands, wheels-on-fire players (with a few falling into both categories). Streatham should have Michael Farn back from paternity leave, but we have yet to hear if September player of the month Ryan Watt’s match penalty from Sunday will rule him out. Even without both players, Streatham looked incredibly dangerous in the final period on Sunday but just lacked the final touch (and caught Renny Marr on an exceptional night). With either or both back on the ice, it will be even stronger still.
MK had a great start to the season, with a win against Invicta and grabbing a point from Swindon in the opening weekend. Since then though they have only managed a win against Cardiff and will be looking to push on. In the games I have watched, Rio Grinell-Parke and Tom Carlon have both looked very strong up front and their defence has the excellent Rupert Quiney. Whoever takes the points, here’s hoping for a really positive Pride game between the teams!
Cardiff continue in their tough run of games as they again face ex-EPL teams on both Saturday and Sunday. There was some great news out of the Fire camp today when it was announced that Australian import David manning was now cleared to play and they had a new NM signing as 19 year old GB prospect Jordan Lawday was returning from the US and joining them (and kudos for the Press Release that basically said “we’re still upset with you for stealing our thunder in our first ever home game, but welcome anyway!”). In addition, 3 of their key players are back from injury as Mike Stratford, Sam Smith and Nicky Chinn all return to the side.
Saturday’s opponents, Swindon, have not been finding life against the old NIHL1 teams as easy as they perhaps expected. Taken to overtime against MK, losing in overtime to Invicta and only just scraping over the line despite a barrage at Renny Marr’s net against Streatham last Sunday. Swindon will be looking to match the big scorelines put up by Bracknell and Peterborough to show they should be in the mix for the title as much as any other team. On Sunday, Cardiff host the Fire and will be looking to improve on the 11-1 scoreline from the Hive two weeks ago, while Bracknell will simply want another solid W to consolidate their top 3 spot in the league.
Before that game, Bracknell will host Streatham on Saturday and will want to make sure there are no slip-ups. Their top line of Bakrlik, Thompson and Best continues to fire on all cylinders and scores the vast majority of the Bees’ goals. If Streatham can shut them down, it could be the key to taking the points. Of course, that will be a far from easy job!
London and Basingstoke have a bit of catching up to do in terms of games played in the league, with all but one of their games so far being challenges or in the cup. They play each other on Saturday and both teams will be looking to continue their 100% league record so far. Bison will be clear favourites going into this game, and having had miserable form in the National cup so far will want to start climbing places in the league this weekend. London, who were quite fancied at the start of the season, have also had some cup woes after losing to local rivals 3 times, although they have had 2 solid win against the Dynamos as well. The team is working hard and does have their moments of brilliance on the ice, but they need to start winning a few more of these close games if they want to start making an impact on the league positions.
Sunday sees Basingstoke travel to Kent for the reverse of the only league game so far. Invicta has a nightmare last weekend, losing 11-1 in the cup to Raiders last Sunday in front of their home crowd. Bison will again be clear favourites, but Invicta will want to put up a strong performance, especially at home, to keep their vociferous crowd happy. Hopefully, not having played on Saturday will help the small Dynamos squad playing full speed for the whole 60 minutes and give them something to get their heads back up after that loss.
Our final league game sees London host Swindon. As mentioned earlier, against the old-NIHL teams, Swindon have been getting points, but only just! London will definitely fancy getting something out of this to show they can also play with the ‘big boys’. However, they will likely have had the tougher game on the Saturday and I suspect their fitness will be hard tested in this one.
National Cup action
Just a single game in the National Cup this weekend as Peterborough host NIHL1 North’s Hull Pirates. The sides met 3 weeks ago when Phantoms suffered their only defeat in a competitive game so far. Hull had a mixed start in their own league so far, starting with an OT loss to old-NIHL1 Solihull on the opening day and also losing to Blackburn a week later but they have picked up and they have won their last two as well as the cup game against Phantoms. Peterborough are strongly tipped as league champions this season in the South and will be looking for some payback in their in-season defeat.
Autumn Cup action
It’s a cup double-header against Northern opposition this weekend for Peterborough as they also travel to Sheffield on the Sunday to open their Autumn Cup account. Sheffield have played one game in this competition so far and have a 3-1 loss to Bison to show for it. To be honest, they looked all over the place in the first two periods of that game and are lucky not to have been a lot more than 3 goals down by the end of the second. The third period saw them start to up the gears though and they started to look good. They will need to start this game in that kind of form though if they don’t want to find themselves having to play catch-up again.
18:00 Bracknell Bees vs Streatham IHC (NIHL1)
18:15 Swindon Wildcats vs Cardiff Fire (NIHL1)
18:30 Basingstoke Bison vs London Raiders (NIHL1)
19:00 Peterborough Phantoms vs Hull Pirates (NIHL1 Cup)
13:00 Sheffield Steeldogs vs Peterborough Phantoms (NIHL1 Autumn Cup)
17:15 Invicta Dynamos vs Basingstoke Bison (NIHL1)
17:30 London Raiders vs Swindon Wildcats (NIHL1)
18:00 Cardiff Fire vs Bracknell Bees (NIHL1)
18:45 Streatham IHC vs MK Thunder (NIHL1)
482days will have live twitter updates from the Pride game on Sunday. Saturday we’re having a break from travelling and will be tweeting from the Peterborough live stream! If you want to come and say ‘hi’ or would like a pin badge, just look for the bright yellow laptop! We’ll also have updates on scores and scorers from all the games across the weekend as we get the information. Going to a game? We’d love to know what’s happening – tweet us @482days with your updates!
Looking for info on the NIHL2 games? You can find the NIHL2 South weekend preview HERE where our NIHL2 correspondents Laurence Thorn and Don McDermott will take a look at the action in that league.